My first radio hire
was a hippie named Gar
He helped me a lot
as we gathered our stars.
Sebastian & Woody
became part of the gang
And when we added Ron Doc & Alfie
we came on with a bang
Then I was named the new program director of CKOM in Saskatoon before I was even ready.
Management wanted me to stay in the motel for a few days to listen to the station before coming in.
They started the day off with some middle-of-the-road music, you know, folks like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Perry Como.
Then a piano player showed up and played some sing-along stuff. At ten, they switched to Country, CHR at four, then back to MOR in the early evening, followed by some talk shows.
However, hearing nothing but crickets, I look up from my notes and see my boss trembling with rage. That’s when I suddenly realized I was talking to the guy who had put that shit on the air. Oh, oh.
That opening meeting put me back by at least six months.
So gathering my wits about me, I decided to fix the production sound first, and because we were short an announcer, I hired Gary Russell.When Gary arrived, he only had one question, “What the f**k is all this?” ( Gary pictured on top with me)
However, when I tried to convince them that fixing production wouldn’t improve the ratings, they waved me off.
Their goal was to say to the returning owner, “Yes, the ratings are terrible, but as you can hear, we have a brand new sound”
We held on to Ken Sebastian Singer, then we brought in Keith Elshaw from Toronto, Doc Harris from Vancouver, Ron Andrews from Regina, and Woody Cooper from Omaha. Then when Dylan Thomas arrived from Albuquerque, we were all set.
One of them was Joni Mitchell, who was in town visiting her folks right when we launched the new format.
When we took a short break, Joni introduced us to her companion, who turned out to be, Graham Nash from the Hollies. Wow!
Then the owner popped into my office and asked me if I was ready for the big meeting?
“The sales department,” he said, “Was getting resistance from our old clients, so they want to return to the old ways.”
Knowing that I was about to rain hell down on everyone, I called my wife who was back visiting family in Transcona, to say that that I might not have a job come supper time. Instead of panicking, she told me to do whatever I had to do, because if worse came to worse, we could always live with her folks.
It’s easy to be brave when a man has his family backing him, so when I walked into that conference room, I was walkin’ tall and loaded for bear.
The GM began the meeting by congratulating me on the excellent ratings, but I interrupted him when he got to the part about our having a few issues with the new sound.
“Someone,” I went on to say, “Should have anticipated that there’d be resistance as there is to anything new and formulated a plan on how to overcome it.
Instead, it looks like our crack sales force was asleep at the wheel.”
So if you’re here to tell me that you want the old ways back, I can assure you that it won’t be me doing it.” And with that, I walked out of the meeting.